Small problems

I will be student teaching in a school with small classes – between 6 and 12 students. I find this to be challenging. Any suggestions or advice?
— M., Kansas



I have had a few small classes in my career and I found them to be great opportunities to delve deeply into topics, conduct some very interesting projects, and become a really cohesive group. I also discovered I could monitor and coach students much more effectively. The small class size helped me be more of a mentor than a teacher.

On a practical level, you can perform labs and experiments requiring elaborate or expensive supplies that would be impractical or even impossible with a bigger group. Larger projects are easier to manage and student presentations take less time overall. Coordinating field trips was not as cumbersome and I could take smaller classes to places that couldn’t accommodate larger numbers. Grading reports and other work was considerably less onerous. Because of the smaller scale, I was able to try some really innovative and new things with fewer headaches.

Surprisingly, we had better conversations and discussions. I thought my larger classes had good discussions, but as I reflect on it I believe it was the more extroverted students who would always participate and many students would simply listen. In the smaller classes, it was easier to coax quieter students to participate—there was no where to hide!

Attempt to view your smaller classes as opportunities to try some cool things.

Hope this helps!

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